Can Teens Today Relate to ‘The Catcher in the Rye’?

There is no question that teen rebellion is universal, and arguably generic. It is a healthy part of every kid’s development as it aids them in finding out who they truly are. Though rebellion is widespread, the subject matter of it varies.



One could argue that class, race and gender can have an effect on the outcomes of rebellion, which could bring us to an interesting topic of discussion: Has The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield aged well in terms of being a relatable protagonist? Does he speak to this generation the way he did to previous ones?

Electric Literature gave this account of how The Catcher in the Rye has dated: “If you’re a white, relatively affluent, permanently grouchy young man with no real problems at all, it’s extraordinarily relatable. The problem comes when you’re not. Where’s the Catcher in the Rye for the majority of readers who are too non-young, non-white, and non-male to be able to stand listening to Holden Caulfield feel sorry for himself?”


Image Via Reflections of Great Literature


When I read this book, I related to Holden in terms of his mental dilemma; his sentiments regarding growing up and the transition into adulthood. However, what Electric Literature is claiming is something I have never even considered thinking about, though it could very well be relevant.

J.D. Salinger’s time was far different from our time today. Nowadays, the thought of a teen wandering through the streets of New York City completely alone is unheard of.

Electric Literature is actually suggesting alternatives to The Catcher in the Rye to make high school curriculums and syllabi more inclusive.

Do you agree with Electric Literature‘s take? Do you think Holden no longer appeals to the modern rebel’s mind anymore? Let us know in the comments!



Featured Image Via ThoughtCo